Blog/Website vs. Social Media – Paid vs. Free

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It Takes Some Time and/or Money

Producing content, marketing yourself and your business and its services takes time. Thankfully these-days a lot of these tasks are made easier with templates, automation, and free tutorials. However, it still takes time to write a blog post, to write a tweet, to make a graphic/video/reel to put on an Instagram story or to post on TikTok. If you have a marketing team, then great, but most of the time when we are starting out, like OTDUDE is – we don’t have the time to spend our efforts all on marketing.

I see this a lot. And it must take up a lot of these people, possibly your’s – time. To make a graphic, put all the information on it, make it look nice, then follow-up with comments, and so on. You see, I am talking about social media. As an influencer, this may be worth it, but it can be so time-consuming. Even with products like Canva to help you, which I personally use for posts and my videos, it still takes a long time to produce content.

The Case Against Social Media

Why social media should not be your focus compared to a website or blog first.

These social platforms are often businesses. They make money somehow – by drawing you in for free. That means you must play by their rules. Follow their policies, user agreements, changes – feature removals, and so on. You don’t have much control. Although you are in control of your own content that you upload, you don’t get to control:

  • Where it appears
  • How often it appears
  • In which order it appears
  • How the final look appears
  • Who sees it
  • When they see it

How do you even know if your audience even sees it at all?! You don’t.

Many of these platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter have algorithms designed to make them money, not you – their userbase. They decide what’s optimal to show the targeted audience to make the userbase engaged and coming back so that they can view the ads, buy the products, upgrades, whatever it may be. You are kind of the “middleman” between the paying customers and advertisers. What’s worse? Your content could be buried, removed, muted, or as is the case with Donald Trump – banned at any time.

So guess what? All your hard work – all those posts you spent probably hours and hours working on, all the comments, all the followers could disappear, with not much you can do about it.

The Case for Websites

With a website, especially one that you build from the ground up – you own and control everything. To how it looks, where elements are placed, how it renders out on desktop vs. mobile, even where ads appear that you want to sell later down the line. You are not forced to use some new ‘feature’ or have a ‘feature’ removed. One neat feature may work well for your business, but if other platforms remove or bury them, you’ll have to adapt and relearn to keep up and stay relevant.

One example is Instagram’s integration of the new Reels in an effort to probably compete with TikTok. Sure it may be “fun” to make these reels, but users are spending a lot of time making these. These new features are a new learning curve as well. If you ask me, Facebook and the new Instagram reels are above me. I don’t have the motivation to learn these because I know it will change when these companies decide it’s no longer appealing to their users.

Maybe you are building a following and have a lot of followers, but in our not too long ago history – there was myspace. And myspace was popular. Now, it’s not. Think about how much time users spent on myspace. It’s not like you can export your users and upload it to a new service!

Think about how much time users are spending creating content on TikTok and Instagram – filming, syncing to music, adding text, adding filters, tags, and so on. What’s amusing to me are the Reels from TikTok that clearly have the TikTok watermark being re-uploaded on Instagram because that tells me people don’t have the TIME to re-make it for Instagram. It was not too long ago that TikTok was threatened to be banned! I am sure some of you had an anxiety attack, especially if you had a high follower count. My Instagram account could be banned today and I would not care. I still have my visitors that know my website and brand and I can always redirect them from whatever new social media platform replaces it in the future back to the website.

The time and energy I spent on my website and blog is one time only with payoff basically forever until I decide to cancel my WebHost, but you would have to regain your followers on social media by reposting, commenting, and putting in a lot of effort – again. Google does all of the hard work for me as a search engine and people naturally find my articles and blog posts. I don’t have to work for followers the same way as I do on social media with commenting, following others, tagging posts so that it pops up on their algorithm. I just write my post, click publish and I am off. And if you know how to write good blog posts, it will end up in search results because it is useful and valuable content that people are looking for.

If you have all the time and resources, such as large a large company with a lot of capital, then it does make sense to invest in many channels of marketing. For smaller entrepreneurs like me and you at this point, our limiting factor is both time and money. I still have to work a day job. Us smaller entrepreneurs are likely a smaller team and have to do things ourselves on the marketing and content creation.

Automation

Guess what? With WordPress you can automate posting to some social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. You can’t do it the other way around from social media – it wouldn’t make much sense. So if you want to still get into social media, you should know that some things can be automated as well from WordPress to your social media accounts! One thing I haven’t been able to find is a solution for Instagram automation from WordPress as it is likely more mobile-based, but it’s not a priority for us right now.

What About Wix or SquareSpace or Similar

OTDUDE decided to start with a website that was built with every element in mind in our control. That was why we decided against more “user-friendly” website solutions like Wix or Squarespace. I consider them a hybrid of the two – part your website, but part their features that is up to them. What you pay for in higher monthly cost is for convenience and user-friendly entry point to get a website off the ground and running. However, you are limited to their features, their platform (they could go away, or raise their prices), etc. Think about how much time you are investing learning new features on Instagram and other social media, you could just as easily be investing that time in learning WordPress and web site development, which is not that hard! You don’t need to know how to write a single line of code, know HTML, CSS, PHP, any of that stuff.

The Best Solution

With a WebHost and your own domain name, you don’t have any of these problems. The cost is often much cheaper because they are so much more established on the Internet, more competition meaning lower prices for us the customer, and you aren’t paying a premium for those templates, the features, integrations, and so on such as for Wix. That does not mean you get any less support – tech support is still available online or by phone.

One downside mentioned is a learning curve and if you still do not feel comfortable deploying a website yourself – I still think it’s more worth it than using free services such as social media. It may be worthwhile to either hire/outsource someone to get a website up and running on WordPress and then learn how to produce content after it’s live or to blog on it yourself, etc. Again, if you have the time, try learning WordPress yourself. There are plenty of tutorials on the Internet as it is the most widely used platform to make a website or blog.

  • With domain names, we like Google Domains because it offers privacy features to hide your information and costs $12/year.
  • Our website runs on Siteground because it is user-friendly, has reliable uptimes, and good customer service. Their entry-level package is very affordable and competitively priced.
Siteground Pricing

Another thing worth mentioning about hosting your own website on WordPress is how versatile it is. You can make WordPress do just about anything. To showcase a portfolio, sell a product, conduct user-surveys, do marketing follow-up e-mails, etc. because they have the ability to install plugins to expand its features. Many major services integrate with WordPress such as Mailchimp, Convertkit, Shopify, you name it. When you get more established, you can then start directing traffic to your blog – where you have total control over social media accounts.

Almost sold on starting a website?

Let’s talk about E-mail.

Is your business running off yahoo, gmail, hotmail? Complete the professional transformation by getting a WebHost, which often provides e-mail hosting! So you can get your own e-mail like [email protected] instead of [email protected] Trust me, it makes a difference.

Also, when your company expands and gets larger, you’ll want your team to have their own e-mail accounts. So getting your website up and running early on is forward-thinking and preparing for the growth of your company as an entrepreneur – for when you become successful. That’s something social media platforms cannot do in regards to growth and communication. You can’t give an Instagram account login to your employees – it’ll get hacked or compromised! Sure large companies have Instagram accounts, but they have specific e-mail accounts even – support email, sales email, marketing email, and so on!

It’s Not As Expensive as You Think

For $8/mo plus $12/year for a domain name, you can have your own website and e-mail. That’s the price for like a cup of coffee from a (company that shall not be named). It’s also a tax write-off for your business too. So is marketing and running ads. You wouldn’t run an ad that links to someone to go to your social media account, you run an ad to point it to your point of sale or your website itself to sell a service or product. Sure, platforms like Facebook and Instagram now have “shops”, but you are subject to their rules and sometimes you pay a “fee”. Why not eliminate that and piece of the puzzle and earn more for your bottom-line with your own website. With my WooCommerce shop, I only pay once to Stripe, the payment processing company for credit card charges or to PayPal and that’s it! I don’t pay Facebook, I don’t pay Etsy, I don’t pay Amazon.

Summary

Here are my recommended steps to take. Hire someone to do the website side of things on sites like Upwork or Fiverr if you are not comfortable. If you have the time, try experimenting with WordPress. You can test it live and see how it looks and if you “break it”, just start all over again. Don’t worry, you won’t break the Internet.

  1. Register for a domain (before someone else takes your awesome name) on Google Domains.
  2. Register and sign-up on the major social media platforms such as Instagram to reserve the usernames of your company (so that someone else may not take it, same reason as step #1). Click the e-mail confirmations they send you to activate the account. Then leave it be. After you work on your website, you can then focus on your social media accounts.
  3. Choose a web host like Siteground to host your website or blog. Choose the basic Webhosting plan (you can always upgrade later). “Web hosting” and “WordPress” plans are basically the same thing, it’s just marketing as people are more familiar with the WordPress name. Link your domain name to your WebHost (Siteground will teach you how).
  4. Install WordPress (free) on the WebHost.
  5. Install a Theme. We recommend purchasing a premium theme (one-time purchase).
  6. Start customizing it with your logo. Pay special attention to the font you use and the color theme. It should be uniform! Your social media would ideally match these fonts and colors “aesthetic”.
  7. If what you need cannot be done, then consider plugins – such as Woocommerce for online sales.
  8. Set-up e-mail accounts for each team member and start using these for business-related communication. They integrate with all your favorite programs and Apps like Outlook, native e-mail in IOS/Android, etc. They just may not look as familiar as Gmail.com, but functionally – it’s the same.

FAQ

What about e-commerce platforms like Shopify?

One argument against WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is that after all is said and done, you may end up paying more for the extra plugins and integrations. I don’t find this to be true in my case. I have been able to use WooCommerce for our products and paid a one time purchase for 1-2 plugins. Shopify can be quite expensive as well and while it has a low learning curve, you are limited to its features in a way. It’s also a focused side of marketing – sales only. You may still need a blog, a portfolio, or a landing site to appeal to your customers.

Should I use WordPress.com

Short answer is no. WordPress is open-source software and anyone can use, study, change and redistribute its source code. It just so happens that WordPress.com hosts websites using WordPress software. Use another WebHost as they are more reliable and versatile than specifically WordPress.com. You are using the WordPress software, but not necessarily the service offered by WordPress.com.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Make sure you read the fine print, but web hosts like Siteground offer a 30-day money back if things just don’t work out. If it is too technical or over your head, consider hiring a freelancer to get things up and running and going from there.

What else should I do after I get my website off and running?

Focus on security. Make a very long password and disable the “admin” account. Use a different username. This goes really for any marketing accounts like Instagram too – the password and security question/answer should not be easily guessed. As your brand gets more popular, hackers and bots will want to compromise them and do things like blackmail you.

When do you recommend focusing on social media?

That’s up to you. When you get a decent amount of web traffic, then you may want to branch off to social media – making sure to link back to your website at any opportunity. I would still invest 80% effort into the website and 20% into social media. What’s great about having a website is you already have the content, say a blog post that you can recycle for social media. You may just need to reformat the image, make it look nice, or cut it short such as for twitter. So in a way, a website is an outline or master template that you can carve out for your social media posts. It doesn’t really make sense to do it other way around for things like blogging. And if you are really into the new Reels thing, I would consider going into YouTube instead. YouTube is here to stay much longer than Reels. That’s why OTDUDE also does YouTube even though it’s “free”, it’s considered the #2 search engine after Google so there is a lot of opportunity there than a social media platform that can come and go. In fact, recently many users were not happy with the recent Instagram and Whatsapp user agreements in regards to privacy and have quit and switched to other platforms, just as people once did from Myspace.

Hope you find this information useful.
Happy blogging!